Antidepressants in childhood: danger???

John H. johnh at
Sun May 11 22:49:57 EST 2003

The below suggests to me that the current push to administer antidepressants
to children may predispose to depression in later life. Can someone help me

John H.

Research from several laboratories has established that treatment with
antidepressants early in life in otherwise normal rats produces behavioral
and physiological effects in adulthood that resemble human depression. After
neonatal treatment with antidepressants, such as clomipramine and
desipramine, adult rats show alterations in sleep, sexual activity, and
other behaviors that appear to mimic those seen in depressed patients. Of
particular interest here are studies indicating that neonatal antidepressant
treatment increases voluntary alcohol intake and decreases activity in the
serotonin neurotransmitter system--findings that are parallel to
observations in human subjects linking decreases in brain serotonin activity
to both depression and alcohol consumption.

Four separate studies have examined free-running circadian rhythms in adult
animals treated with antidepressants in early postnatal life; two of these
studies used clomipramine-treated hamsters, the third one studied
clomipramine-treated rats, and the fourth study used desipramine-treated
rats. Although one hamster study failed to detect any significant effects of
neonatal clomipramine treatment on circadian rhythms (Klemfuss and Gillin
1998), the other reported shortening of the free-running period (under
constant light) and increased circadian amplitude (Yannielli et al. 1998).
In rats, the researchers reported lengthening of the free-running period (in
constant darkness) after neonatal desipramine treatment (Rosenwasser and
Hayes 1994) and increased circadian amplitude and voluntary alcohol intake
after both neonatal desipramine and clomipramine treatments (alcohol intake
was not assessed in the hamster experiments) (Dwyer and Rosenwasser 1998;
Rosenwasser and Hayes 1994). These studies indicate that neonatal
antidepressant treatment, like other animal models of depression, is
associated with alterations in the circadian pacemaker.

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